President says no shortage of COVID vaccines, urges all to get third dose
Iran’s President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said there is no shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, calling on all Iranians to get a booster dose of the vaccine.
Addressing a meeting of the country’s National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus on Saturday, the president said, “According to the reports provided in the country, there is no shortage of vaccines, both domestically made and imported vaccines, and I invite everyone to receive the third dose of the vaccine to protect the health of the society more effective,” Tasnim News Agency reported.
He appreciated the measures taken to control the traffic at the country’s borders and said, “I call on all relevant officials, including governor generals, to continue to take care of traffic at the country’s borders with sensitivity, and in particular to precisely control the entry of people.”
Raeisi also said decision on the restrictions imposed on the entry of citizens of some countries in which the Omicron variant is present will be left to the Interior Ministry and the relevant headquarters to make appropriate decisions regarding the continuation or removal of these restrictions.
He praised the scientific studies conducted on the vaccination of children against coronavirus and said, “A good report was presented, but given the questions and objections that still remain on this issue, it is necessary to continue the expert work in this field.”
Referring to the decision of the country’s coronavirus task force to reopen schools and universities, he said, “In the current situation with the significant drop in new cases and fatality, it was decided that the classes and exams of schools and universities be held in-person, which should be followed up by the relevant agencies.”
The Iranian Health Ministry said on Saturday that more than 122 million jabs of COVID-19 vaccines have been injected across the country.
It said that over 60.06 million Iranians have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, over 52.5 million have received the second dosage, and more than 9.8 million have gotten the booster shot.
Iran on Saturday reported 26 fatalities and 701 new positive cases across the country. The figures have drastically decreased in the country due to the people’s observance of the health protocols as well as the government’s mass vaccination campaign, according to IRNA.
On Friday, the Health Ministry reported only 19 deaths in 24 hours, which was the lowest daily toll in almost two years.
Iran exports 10m ornamental fishes in one year
Iran’s annual exports of ornamental fish stands at 10 million pieces (units), announced the head of Ornamental Fish and Aquatics Department of Iran Fisheries Organization (IFO), adding that the Persian Gulf littoral states and neighboring countries including Azerbaijan and Afghanistan are the main export destinations in this field.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Alireza Rahmani said that East and Southeast Asian countries including China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand are the major producers of ornamental fishes in the world, which export these fishes to all parts of the world.
He continued: “Ornamental fishes have a considerable market in the world, and the annual turnover of this industry is over $20 billion, in which our share is very small, less than one percent.”
“The distance between Southeast Asian countries and Europe is great. It takes eight to 10 hours by air to go from Southeast Asia to Europe,” he noted.
Rahmani said that considering the shorter route between Iran and Europe, the export of ornamental fishes from Iran has more profit for us and for the destination countries.
“The European Union has a more conservative standard for imports into Europe, so we need to change our criteria for exports to Europe,” the official said.
“If their standards are met, the ground for exports to Europe will be paved. The Europeans prefer to import ornamental fishes from Iran considering the distance and cost. We currently have exports to Turkey in this field, to a limited extent,” he said.
Rahmani said, “Considering the increase in the production of ornamental fishes in the country during the next five years, Iran can take a larger share of the ornamental fishes market in Europe.”
Ornamental fishes also have a good market in the country, so that most of our products are purchased in Iran and are used in aquariums in homes and offices, he noted.
“The production of ornamental fishes in Iran increased from about 40-50 million pieces 20 years ago to over 260 million pieces in the year to March 2020, and in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2021) it exceeded 275 million pieces,” Rahmani said.
Currently, there are about 400 species of ornamental fishes in the world, of which about 120 species are reproduced in our country, Rahmani said, adding that most of these species are freshwater ornamental fishes, the IFO official said.
“Currently, all the provinces of the country are working in this field. This activity has a higher efficiency in tropical regions and is more economical in terms of energy and heating costs. However, ornamental fishes are also produced in the cold provinces of the country,” Rahmani noted.
He said that Isfahan Province is first in the country, with a production of 70 million pieces of ornamental fishes, followed by Tehran, Gilan, Qazvin and Alborz provinces.
According to Rahmani, 10,000 people are currently employed in the field of ornamental fishes production in the country.
We have almost the same seasonal and tropical conditions as the countries of Southeast Asia, the official said, adding that some of our provinces can do well in this regard.
Intense talks held in Vienna for lifting US sanctions
Russia: All sides agree progress made for JCPOA revival
Talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers continued in Vienna on Saturday with a working group on lifting sanctions discussing key issues of verification and assurances.
Participants at the expert-level meeting reviewed the details of proposed mechanisms on guarantees of non-repetition of violation that Iran seeks from the United States.
Russian chief negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted that the working group “assessed the current state of affairs” on sanctions lifting.
Over the past two days, delegates also engaged in “intense discussions at various levels and formats”, IRNA wrote.
According to Fars News Agency, representatives of the Central Bank of Iran and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran took part in some meetings in order to “expedite negotiations and offer detailed expert opinions”.
Iran wants the US administration of President Joe Biden to give assurances that further governments will not violate the multilateral agreement again as former president Donald Trump did in 2018 when he unilaterally walked out of it and reimposed and reinforced sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Tehran also demands that all those sanctions be removed “effectively, practically and verifiably” after the tattered pact, known as the JCPOA, is restored.
“A checklist for the verification of US measures” with regards to the removal of sanctions is being prepared, Tasnim News Agency wrote.
Later in the day, heads of the delegations of Iran and other JCPOA parties – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – also held bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Negotiations, now in their eighth round, began six weeks ago with the aim of bringing the US back to compliance with the JCPOA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday that the Vienna talks were heading in the right direction.
“The eighth round of Vienna talks is on the right path ... [and] achieving a good agreement is possible if the Western sides show serious determination,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
“Lifting sanctions means lifting all forms of sanctions stipulated in the nuclear agreement, and the sanctions that Trump reimposed contradict the terms of the agreement,” he added.
The top diplomat noted that the most “practical model” for the removal of sanctions would be when it comes to Iran exporting oil and obtaining revenues through the country’s own banking system.
All sides see progress
On Friday, Ulyanov said that all sides had seen “some progress… towards an agreement on restoration of #JCPOA and #sanctions lifting”.
The Russian diplomat, however, noted that “persistent additional efforts” were needed to achieve a deal.
France’s foreign minister also said on Friday progress had been made regarding the Vienna talks although time was running out.
“I remain convinced we can reach a deal. Bits of progress have been made in the last few days,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV and RMC Radio, according to Reuters.
“We have been heading in a positive direction in the last few days, but time is of the essence, because if we don’t get an accord quickly, there will be nothing to negotiate.”
Western diplomats have indicated they are hoping to have a breakthrough by the end of January or early February. Iran has rejected any deadline imposed by Western powers.
Current extraordinary instability will lead to end of capitalism as we know it
By Mohammad Memarian*
The diagnosis may differ with vantage point, but many observers agree that something is deeply, and severely, wrong with capitalism. Climate change seems to threaten the whole world,
historically unprecedented level of inequality is with us and on the rise, and far-right populist
movements within democracies are gaining ground. Is capitalism doomed? Some think so.
“All social systems, including capitalism, are mortal,” said Wolfgang Streeck, German
economic sociologist and emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily. For years, he has been arguing that capitalism is approaching its end, most notably in his three books: ‘Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism’, published in 2014, ‘How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System’, published in 2016, and ‘Critical Encounters: Capitalism, Democracy, Ideas’, published in 2020. “Capitalism worked well only when there was one and only one capitalist lead-state, a center combining financial, economic, political, military, and cultural hegemony. Today, with the decline of the U.S., there is no such center anymore,” he said in a short exchange in which he touched upon his core ideas.
*Mohammad Memarian is a staff writer at Iran Daily.
In 2016, you published ‘How Will Capitalism End?’ as a collection of essays on “a failing system.” What’s your main point therein?
That all social systems are mortal. Where there is a beginning there is an end. Capitalism began in the 17th or 18th century and it is not the end of history. Also, historical transitions take time; there is likely to be a long period of confusion, indeterminacy, disorder, and “interregnum.” Don’t expect capitalism to end by someone declaring it ended, and from tomorrow on we shall have whatever, socialism or something else. I argue that there are indications that we are in a period of extraordinary instability, at the end of which capitalism, as we know it, will no longer exist. I also argue that we are unable to make precise predictions, for example, on when that period of instability will end.
One might argue that capitalism has proven quite adept, time and again, in surviving threatening crises. Why do you think this time is different?
Capitalism was always an extremely unstable socio-economic order. It kept changing, through fundamental crises, and not only marginally. I emphasize the crises because the periods of stability were rare, short, and in-between. In Europe and the U.S., the thirty years after WWII were a time of exceptional stability, both political and economic. Even on the periphery of capitalism there were hopes for “modernization” and “development,” under a secular order of sovereign nation-states, integrated into a stable and peaceful international order. In my books, I have described the constellation of forces that made this possible. No such forces that could take their place are now in sight. This may make our time indeed different. Mind you that in the first half of the 20th century – the last time there was no obvious new center in a broken international political-economic order – three blocks, Japan, Germany, and the Anglo-American world ended up fighting a war that cost roughly 60 million lives, 25 million in the Soviet Union alone.
Democratic capitalism has lasted a long time, sometimes delivering astonishing results. What has been its point of balance? Why can’t it sustain that balance?
Democratic capitalism is, or was, a highly contingent social order. It requires effective nation-states with a capacity for egalitarian correction of market outcomes, as well as a global regime regulating international economic exchange and the relationship between the capitalist center and its periphery. Interestingly, capitalism worked well only when there was one and only one capitalist lead-state, a center combining financial, economic, political, military, and cultural hegemony – beginning with Genova, moving on to Amsterdam, from there to London and, as a result of a worldwide war, to New York. Today, with the decline of the U.S., there is no such center anymore. Moreover, economic globalization has preempted national democracy as it has deprived nation-states of their capacity to redistribute; one result is the breaking-up of the postwar political party system and the rise of so-called “populist” parties that make the formation of stable democratic governments difficult if not impossible.
Citizens apparently are consumers of the capitalist system whose consumption further fosters the system and whose needs are, to a large extent, defined and met by the system. Have they been perhaps unwittingly complicit in creating this
There was a time when consumer demand fueled capitalist growth. But for this, you need egalitarian corrections to the unequal income distribution that results from the “free play of market forces.” This was what worked in the Keynesian era. Today, rising inequality limits demand for consumer goods, so capitalists invest their money in financial papers rather than industries with jobs for the masses; this makes for under-employment and a further cut in demand. Incidentally, capitalism wasn’t always consumption-driven, and sometimes the consumers are not identical with the producers, or the workers; for example, they may be located in different countries.
In that spirit, what is the citizen’s responsibility or duty in the current conditions, which seem not to let them express and highlight their concerns even if they are capable of finding what they should be concerned about?
I don’t want to decree responsibilities. On the global periphery it would be desirable for people to organize in trade unions and progressive political parties, so that the capitalist center can no longer exploit them through terrible working conditions and wages on which one cannot live. They should also try not to be too fascinated by Western consumerist lifestyles, of life as presented on TV or on YouTube; they cannot be generalized to mankind as a whole anyway, and in the West the number of people that can enjoy them is on the decline. The uppermost duty of citizens, I believe, would be defending or regaining local autonomy, build local bases of political power, invest in alternative forms of organization, like cooperatives, and of economic order, including the modernization of subsistence economies, especially subsistence farming.
Are there at least general outlines of an alternative system in sight?
Capitalism is not a closed “system”, just as there is no unified rival system waiting in the wings of history that could be put in place wholesale once capitalism is removed. What we know is that we need to protect and preserve and reinvent locally based solidarity and cooperation, and that cooperatives are often a viable alternative to capitalist firms and modes of production. The rest is local struggles, local initiative, local inventiveness, and local experimentation.
What made you move from ‘Buying Time’ to ‘End of Capitalism’ within two years? Was there no more time for democratic capitalism to buy?
The original German version of ‘Buying Time’ was written in 2012, and the introduction to ‘How Will Capitalism End?’ was written in 2016; so we’re talking about four years, not two. But the main themes of the second book are already present in the first. As to buying more time, I have a section in both books that deals with what I call “Phase IV” of the decline of the postwar capitalist order, beginning in 2009 after the global financial crisis. It is defined by the ongoing “quantitative easing” campaign of the central banks: their policy of creating fresh money as though there were no tomorrow. I suggest that just as inflation, public debt, and private debt had to be contained, money printing cannot go on forever – and indeed the central banks know it and try to get out of it. But then the stock prices might collapse. So, time is being bought again, with a new trick, but it can be done only within narrow limits, as always. Will there be a fifth fix to the crisis? We don’t know. My line, ‘How Will Capitalism End?’ is: It’s getting harder, the risks are increasing, and the search for fixes will become more desperate. This is all one can predict without pretending to be a prophet – but this, I think, one can predict.
And there comes “Critical Encounters“ your collection of book reviews, published in 2020. It looks to me like an experimental form. What distinctive opportunity does this different form of encounter provide for you as the author?
I hope not just for me but also for the reader. The kind of book reviews I like are the result of a deep reading of a book worth being taken seriously, one way or other, a book that offers ideas that strike you as a reader. A book review has the advantage that it can devote detailed attention to what an author is saying, and it allows for a profound critical or positive, hopefully constructive forward-looking engagement. In reviewing a book I learn about my own ideas on the subject, also because I can write them up in a more tentative, more essayistic way, not constrained by my limited capacities for carrying out systematic research. If one does it well, others may want to take up the one or other idea and examine it more closely. Of course, a good book review may also be useful for the author of the book.
Finally, does the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic tell us anything about the relationship between capitalism and democracy?
I think it is too early to tell. What I see is a lot of continuity in, for example, the growth of public debt, the shortening of supply chains and other developments toward de-globalization, the role of the state as a reinsurer for capitalist profit-making, the risks associated with ungoverned and probably ungovernable global systems of communication, etc. and, very importantly, the growing gap between rich and poor countries with respect to their economies and state capacities. We see even more than in the past that what matters for economic and social development is not primarily per capita income per se but the collective goods that a society can provide by extracting from capital a contribution to the well-being of ordinary people, like an effective health care or public education system, or simply clean running water, etc. Like the climate crisis, the lesson from the pandemic is that the people as citizens need to take back control over their states to protect themselves from the destructive effects of hyper-globalization.
Kazakhstan scene of East-West confrontation
By Ramin Mehmanparast*
Protests in Kazakhstan over the past few days has drawn the attention of various countries in the region, Europe as well as the United States, Russia and China.
Such domestic developments grabbed headlines due to Kazakhstan’s strategically important position. It is one of the most important countries in the Central Asian region, with an area of more than 2.7 million square kilometers, with access to the Caspian Sea.
Sharing borders with Russia and China, as well as military bases from the Soviet-era and the spaceport of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan adds to its strategic importance. The country has high potential for grain production. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan used to produce 38 million tons of grains. Moreover, other countries’ access to the North-South and East-West corridors through Kazakhstan gives it a special status.
Kazakhstan’s first president since independence from the Soviet Union, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ran the country from 1990 to 2019, until Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over from him. During his 29-year-long rule, Nazarbayev tried to strike a balance in foreign policy between the East and the West.
In addition to that balance, under the long-serving president, Kazakhstan managed to implement a successful development program using its vast natural resources. In fact, this has made Kazakhstan one of the most outstanding countries in the Eurasian region, as well as among ex-Soviet states.
But this development program led to the emergence of a wealthy and aristocratic class that undertook these large-scale economic projects, meaning that mostly the new caste and not the whole of society benefitted from the projects. This created a kind of social class division. Furthermore, ordinary Kazakhs witnessed significant corruption in the country’s administrative system.
Social class division, coupled with public corruption, have stoked a sense of discrimination and injustice among the majority of Kazak society.
Although massive development projects improved people’s livelihoods, they fueled discrimination and created an unjust social class division that could trigger certain social movements which had been suppressed over the past years.
Now a New Year increase in fuel prices seemed to have served as a spark, unleashing accumulated dissatisfaction of the public and bringing people to the streets.
One should bear in mind that Kazakhstan has always been a scene for rivalry between Russia and the United States. It has a strategic position that makes it crucial to the United States and Russia to secure their presence in the Eurasian and Central Asian regions. Such rivalries have already taken place in Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Western nations are always looking for such opportunities to take advantage of grassroots protests and foment colorful revolutions in order for them to play a greater role or to install pro-West political parties in these countries.
And now, Kazakhstan seems to be the scene of confrontation between Western countries (NATO) and Russia’s security power.
Russian forces have been deployed to Kazakhstan as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the request of the Kazakh government, and do not appear to be allowing the Americans to flex their muscles there.
The recent protests have been largely contained and the government will most likely weather the crisis. But it should not be forgotten that as long as roots of dissatisfaction such as injustice, corruption and lack of political reform are not properly addressed, new protests could flare up at any time in the future.
*Ramin Mehmanparast is former Iranian ambassador to Kazakhstan.
Over 20 die as snowstorm traps drivers in Pakistan
At least 21 people died in an enormous traffic jam caused by tens of thousands of visitors thronging a Pakistani hill town to see unusually heavy snowfall, authorities said Saturday.
Police reported that at least six people had frozen to death in their cars, while it was not immediately clear if others had died from asphyxiation after inhaling fumes in the snowdrift.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the military had mobilized to clear roads and rescue thousands still trapped near Murree, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of the capital, Islamabad, AFP reported.
Video shared on social media showed cars packed bumper-to-bumper, with one-meter-high (three-foot) piles of snow on their roofs.
“People are facing a terrible situation,” said Usman Abbasi, a tourist stuck in the town where heavy snow was still falling.
For days, Pakistan’s social media has been full of pictures and videos of people playing in the snow around Murree, a picturesque resort town built by the British in the 19th century as a sanatorium for its colonial troops.
The Punjab Province chief minister’s office said Murree had been declared a “disaster area” and urged people to stay away.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was shocked and upset by the tragedy.
“Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared,” he tweeted.
“Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.”
Authorities warned last weekend that too many vehicles were trying to enter Murree, but that failed to discourage hordes of day trippers from the capital.
The town of around 30,000 clings to the side of steep hills and valleys and is serviced by narrow roads that are frequently clogged even in good weather.
Sheikh Rashid said residents had sheltered people trapped in the town and provided blankets and food to those they could reach on the outskirts.
Authorities said schools and government buildings had taken in those who could make it to the town from the clogged roads.
Helicopters were also on standby for when the weather cleared.
Rescue 1122, Pakistan’s emergency service, released a list naming 21 people it said had been confirmed dead.
It included a policeman, his wife and their six children.
Hasaan Khawar, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said they had frozen to death inside a trapped car.
Saudi warplanes intensify airstrikes against various residential areas across Yemen
Saudi Arabia has upped the ante in the war on Yemen by conducting a new round of airstrikes against various areas across the war-wracked Arab country, as Riyadh and its regional allies press ahead with their devastating war and brutal siege against the Yemeni nation.
Saudi warplanes carried out four air raids against the outskirts of the northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada early on Saturday, Yemen’s Almasirah television network said.
Initial reports suggest that two civilians were killed and a woman sustained injuries in the strikes, Press TV reported.
Hours earlier, Saudi fighter jets had launched 45 airstrikes against different areas in Yemen’s southern province of Shabwah.
Almasirah TV reported that the aerial assaults hit Usaylan, Bayhan and Ain districts. There were no immediate reports of casualties or extent of damage.
Saudi aircraft also bombarded Al-Balaq area in the Wadi Ubaidah district of Yemen’s oil-producing central province of Marib, located some 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of the capital, Sana’a, on 16 occasions, though no reports about possible casualties were quickly available.
Three other aerial assaults targeted Al-Jubah and Sirwah districts in the same Yemeni province.
Saudi warplanes also conducted seven airstrikes against an area in the Abs district of Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah.
Saudi military aircraft launched two air raids against the Khabb wa ash Sha’af district in the northern Yemeni province of Jawf as well. There were no immediate reports about possible casualties.
Saudis violate Hodeida truce 126 times in 24 hours
Separately, forces of the Saudi-led military coalition and their mercenaries violated 126 times during the past 24 hours a ceasefire agreement between warring sides for the western coastal province of Hodeida.
Almasirah television network, citing an unnamed source in Yemen’s Liaison and Coordination Officers Operations Room, reported that the violations included three reconnaissance flights over various regions, in addition to 35 counts of artillery shelling and 63 shooting incidents.
Yemenis rally to slam Saudi war
In Hodeida Province, people took to the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the ongoing Saudi-led military aggression against their homeland.
Local media reports said the participants in the rally chanted vociferous slogans against the Yemen war while carrying the country’s tricolor flag and pictures of top resistance leaders.
They also praised Yemeni naval forces for seizing a United Arab Emirates-flagged cargo vessel as it was engaged in “hostile acts,” warning the Abu Dhabi regime against continuing its acts of aggression.
The demonstrators underscored that Yemeni people reserve the ‘legitimate right’ to defend their land, waters and airspace by all available means.
They called on people from all walks of the Yemeni society to mobilize forces to battlegrounds, and support Yemeni Army troops and fighters from Popular Committees in their battles against Saudi-led coalition troops, Saudi-backed militants loyal to former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi as well as the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.
The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.
Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.
Foolad, Sepahan handed ACL group berths after Persepolis, Esteghlal omission
The new seeding for the 2022 AFC Champions League (ACL) will see Iranian clubs Foolad Khuzestan and Sepahan being secured a place in the group stage of the competition, kicking off in May, according to Footy Rankings, a website dedicated to AFC club competitions rankings.
The new West Zone seeding comes after Persian Gulf Pro League giants Persepolis and Esteghlal on Friday were omitted from the new season of the Asian elite clubs’ competition due to failure in meeting all of the mandatory criteria of the AFC Club Licensing Regulations.
Javad Nekounam’s Foolad had already booked its place in the group phase as the Iranian Hazfi Cup champion, but is now seeded in Pot 1 of the January 17 draw, alongside defending champion Al Hilal, Qatari giants Al Duhail and Al Sadd, and Emirati champion Al Jazira.
Sepahan, which was initially to play in the playoffs as the league runner-up, will now enjoy a direct qualification for the group stage and will be placed in Pot 2 – also featuring Saudi sides Al Faisaly and Al Shabab, Qatar’s Al Rayyan and Shabab Al Ahli of the UAE.
‘Black Friday of Iranian football’, headlined the front page of Iran newspaper after Tehran-based archrivals Persepolis and Esteghlal – as well as Gol Gohar Sirjan – were declared ineligible by the AFC’s independent Entry Control Body (ECB) to participate in the new ACL season.
Persepolis manager Yahya Golmohammadi, whose team was beaten in the final of competition by Ulsan Hyundai in 2020, described the news as “historic disgrace for our football.”
“This was really shocking for a team that has played in the final twice in recent years. It is truly hard for me to bear the fact and those responsible for the situation will have to be held accountable,” added the Iranian head coach.
The AFC had first issued a petition to the ECB last month, calling for the omission of the three Iranian clubs, as they were given five days – until December 27 – to provide the AFC body with the required documentations.
Dariush Mostafavi, the head of the Iranian Professional Licensing Appeals Committee, had underlined “the governmental ownership of Persepolis and Esteghlal, as well as their debts to former players and coaches,” as the main reasons behind the AFC’s decision.
Majid Sadri, the acting general manager of Persepolis, put the blame on Iranian federation’s Professional Licensing Primary Committee for the situation, while also criticizing the Asian football governing body itself.
“The AFC has underscored our debts for the decision, while $3.4 million of our assets has been frozen by the organization [due to sanctions] and numerous letters by us to receive the sum have remained unanswered,” Sadri said.
Iranian actor-cum-director Maadi among U.S. film festival jury members
Arts & Culture Desk
Iranian actor, screenwriter and director Payman Maadi has been selected as a jury member of the American Sundance Film Festival 2022, to take place in hybrid format from Jan. 20-30.
Maadi, along with American writer, director, and actress Marielle Heller and TV producer Chelsea Barnard, will be the jurors for the U.S. dramatic competition, ISNA reported.
Maadi is best known for starring in the Academy Award-winning film, ‘A Separation,’ and ‘About Elly,’ both by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. For his role in ‘A Separation’, Maadi won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival. His recent film credits include ‘Night Shift’, ‘6 Underground’, ‘13 Hours’, ‘Camp X-Ray’ and ‘Just 6.5’, and his recent TV credits include HBO’s ‘The Night Of’ and ‘Westworld’.
Comprising six juries awarding prizes for artistic and cinematic achievements, other jurors include British filmmaker Andrew Haigh, American filmmaker Garrett Bradley (U.S. documentary competition) American filmmaker Peter Nicks (U.S. documentary competition) and veteran documentary cinematographer Joan Churchill (U.S. documentary competition).
Also, Haigh joins Egyptian film producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy and film curator La Frances Hui on the world cinema dramatic competition jury, while Cannes artistic adviser Emilie Bujès, former U.S. ambassador Patrick Gaspard and American documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter will judge the world cinema documentary competition.
The other two sections of the festival are the NEXT competition and the short film program competition.
The festival, which has been held in Park City, Utah, for close to 40 years and supports artists by creating a community for independent storytelling, will be held fully online for the first time ever in 2022, according to upmatters.com.
Sundance took place both online and in person in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite ambitious COVID protocols, the Omicron variant put a dent in this year’s plans, with its high rate of transmissibility jeopardizing the health and safety of attendees.
Iran blacklists 51 more US officials, commanders for involvement in Gen. Soleimani assassination
Tehran updated the list of American individuals it blacklisted for involvement in the US assassination of top Iranian counterterrorism commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his companions, adding 51 US officials and commanders to the list.
In a statement released on Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the United States, by conducting the “callous terrorist act,” acted in glorification of terrorism and in violation of the fundamental human rights, Press TV reported.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran underlines that the heinous terrorist act will not in any manner diminish the resolute determination and resolve of the Islamic Republic of Iran in following the path of the revered General Soleimani in fighting terrorism and terrorist groups, in particular, the US-backed terrorist groups,” the statement read.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the “Act on Countering Violations of Human Rights and Adventurist and Terrorist Actions of the United States of America in the Region”, particularly, articles 4 and 5, and in addition to the American individuals including Donald Trump, Michael Pompeo, John Bolton, Mark Esper, Gina Haspel, Christopher Miller and Steven Mnuchin and also Matthew Tueller, Steven Fagin and Rob Waller, who were listed respectively on January 19, 2021 and October 23, 2020, identifies and imposes sanctions as set forth in the abovementioned act on 51 other persons for the role they played in the terrorist act of the United States against General Soleimani and his companions.
The persons, as the case may be, have taken part in decision-making, organizing, financing, and carrying out the terrorist act or have otherwise justified terrorism which is a threat to the international peace and security through supporting such egregious terrorist attack.
On January 3, 2020, the US military conducted an air operation under the order of former US president Donald Trump, targeting General Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport after his arrival. The attack also killed the general’s companions, including Deputy Commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.